Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Busy Elves have wrought it

Mileage: 71
Days: 8
Remaining: 82
Average Daily Mileage: 8.9

My Schwinn road bike has a terminal squeak. The "carbon fiber" (plastic) fork is contacting the aluminum head tube and making a horrible, unending squeak. I tried pouring a bunch of oil onto the affected region. It helps for about five minutes, then the squeak is back. So after work today I put together the 'ole Rivendell for the daily ride. When I say put together, I mean: play musical pedals and saddle. I have a single pair of Speedplay mountain bike pedals, which I love (total free outward heel rotation = happy knees). Those get swapped around every time I ride. And whichever bike I want to ride, it's pretty much guaranteed to be lacking a saddle. I have four bikes and three Brooks B.52 saddles. Musical saddles, except there's an extra bike, so there goes the analogy.
On the bike and down the road, the stark differences between Rivendell and Schwinn were immediately obvious (Ironical aside here: this is a Waterford-build Rivendell, and Waterford is run by Richard Schwinn, and they used to build the high-end Schwinn Paramounts). The Schwinn is twitchy. The first thing I do after hopping on is nearly fall off. The thing must have angles for crit riding. Another sad/bad thing about biking: all this racing crap coming over into the recreational biking world where is has no place, and makes recreational riders miserable, and at worst hate their bikes and maybe stop riding. After some miles I get used to the crazy nature of the geometry of the bike, and it's not bad to ride. Of course, in Houston riding is mostly in a flat, straight line. On the Rivendell, I notice several things. Stability. I can immediately (and indefinitely) ride no-hands, whereas on the Schwinn I can't ride no-hands for more than a second or two. On the Riv, from the cockpit, I can see a big fat front wheel in front of my handlebars. At first it seems like that wheel is wayyy out there. No doubt part of the secret of the stability. The Riv felt a bit slow too, but then I realized it has real road gearing, with race-inspired 42/52 up front and a pretty small 8-spd Campy cassette. This adds up to spending more time in the bottom 3-4 gears. The Schwinn has mountain-bike inspired gearing, with a triple and probably a 36-ish middle ring. Tonight I turned right and rode TH Park to the beltway. This bike path has several tight turns and swoops. On the first one I noticed that the bottom bracket felt rather low (Rivs are known for this). Through corners I'd pedal on the Schwinn, I was coasting on the Riv with the inside crank up. But that is probably a matter of my comfort level, not anything wrong with the bike. Last year when I rode out at the velodrome in Cullen Park, the alarm bells were clanging inside my head the entire time, letting me know that my outside pedal was quite close to the cement. It's amazing to me how that becomes ingrained and automatic to the point of feeling like an instinct. One last comment about Riv: I shifted way less, as it has down-tube full-friction shifters.

A map of my area with my two main rides. Click on the image for a much larger view. The pinkish line = Terry Hershey Park ride. The blue line (which was orange in AI...) = the Barker-Clodine ride. I-10 is along the top of the image, Beltway 8 is along the right side, and the Westpark Tollway along the bottom. Any guess which ride is more fun?


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